Outlawed Islamist group Ansar Bangla 8 praised Tuesday’s killing in northeastern Bangladesh of secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das, but said the regional branch of al-Qaeda was responsible.
Das was the third secular blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh since February.
“As AQIS claimed responsibility, use the name. Don’t use Ansar Bangla 8,” the group tweeted in response to reports that it killed Das.
According to the Dhaka Tribune, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent [AQIS] claimed responsibility for the murder in a post on JustPaste.it, a file and photo-sharing website.
But Ansar Bangla 8 posted several messages on Twitter glorifying the act, including pictures with a red arrow pointing from a photo of his face to one of his corpse.
“Alhamdulillah (Thanks to God), soldiers of Bangladesh killed one anti-Islamic atheist who was making fun of Allah and his messenger Muhammad,” the caption beneath the photos read in Bengali.
“We don’t forget and we will NOT forget others!” the tweet added in English.
On hit list
Police were investigating the claim that AQIS was behind the latest killing, Agence France-Presse reported.
AQIS earlier claimed it had carried out the Feb. 26 machete-killing in Dhaka of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American who founded the Mukto-Mona (Free Thinker) blogsite featuring writings by secularists.
On March 30, suspected Islamists killed Washiqur Rahman, a lesser-known blogger, in a similar manner in the Bangladeshi capital.
Das was on a hit-list compiled by militants who were behind Roy’s murder, AFP quoted Sylhet Police Commissioner Kamrul Hasan as saying.
Tuesday’s attack targeting Das, a member of Mukto-Mona’s advisory board, took place outside his home near the city of Sylhet.
“Four masked men attacked him with sharp weapons as he boarded a rickshaw in front of his home on his way to the town at around 9 a.m.,” Gausul Hossain, officer-in-charge of the Sylhet Airport police station, told BenarNews by phone.
“Doctors pronounced him dead upon arrival at the hospital. We’re trying to find out whether he was killed because of his writings,” he added.
Banker by trade
The 30-year-old Das, a banker by profession, was a main organizer of Sylhet Jagoran Mancha (Sylhet Awareness Platform), a local chapter of a movement to bring alleged criminals of Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war to justice.
In 2006, he received Mukto-Mona’s Rationalist Award for his secular writings.
Das also edited a science magazine that published from Sylhet.
In recent months, especially after the murders of Roy and Rahman, he had been extremely vocal about the failure of police to arrest their killers.
“One after another blogger is being slain, but the administration is taking no drastic action against the perpetrators,” Debashih Debu, spokesman of Sylhet Jagoron Mancha, told BenarNews after the latest slaying.
The group has called a general strike across Sylhet on Wednesday to protest Das’s murder.
“If these killings continue, it would be hard for any free-thinking person to live in Bangladesh,” Debu added.